The walkers are back! Yes, The Walking Dead finally returns this Sunday, and you can expect another dark, epic season, but with a difference, said actress Melissa McBride, who plays Carol on the AMC show.
“We're learning so much about these characters and how this world ... I guess how they're adapting to this world and changing,” said McBride in an exclusive interview with Blastr. “It feels like a culmination. Season four is the culmination of expression of the last three seasons, of what has happened to them. It feels like a turning point. [This] season feels important. … There's lighter moments, but there has to be, because this season is very, very dark.”
McBride's Carol has survived against all odds through the three previous seasons. She suffered through an abusive husband and the devastation of losing her daughter, Sophia, all the while dodging walkers. Yet somehow Carol not only survived all the horrors of her life and the apocalypse, she's gotten stronger as the series progresses.
“The stories this season, there's so much more depth to them. It's just structured in a way that we get to take our time with everyone. It's really interesting. With Carol, she's pretty adamant that we're not going to lose anybody and nobody's going to be a victim. She doesn't want that for herself. She doesn't want it for anyone else. It's been really interesting to see how she expresses herself.”
Past seasons have taught us that the survivors will indeed lose people, but Carol's not willing to sit back and let it happen anymore, said McBride. “There will always be losses in this world. It is inevitable. It is simply inevitable. But as far as her motivation, she's fighting harder than ever. You're going to see her really taking more initiative,” she said.
“The whole arc is amazing. Just from going to almost gray matter in the first season to finding her color, I guess. Really expressing and experiencing the spectrum, even in this world that's so scary and terrifying to see what she's capable of, you know? This path is forced for her, but she's really risen to the occasion and I'm proud of her. I'm very proud of her,” said McBride.
“With all of the characters, Carol included, you're going to see so much more character development. For all the characters, you're going to see it's almost like there's a culmination of the apocalyptic world that they live in, the circumstances of dealing with the hordes, the walkers, all of that. Then the deaths of the people that they love and lost. I feel like this season we're really getting to see what all of this stuff that's happened to them over the last three seasons, how it's really affecting and changing them,” she said.
For McBride, the key to Carol's growing strength came from one specific moment.
“I was thinking about this today, how it was for her when, in the highway scene, the premiere of season two, how hard that was just to almost have Sophia in her grasp. Almost at her fingertips, and then just gone.”
Then in the horrific barn scene she lost Sophia all over again. But at the end of season two, “when the barn burns and she just goes for a stick. She's backed up against the wall, literally. I think that's when her spirit came out and said, 'Hey! Let's fight. I don't want to die. You don't want to die.' And she just picked up whatever was there. I want to think that that surprised her,” said McBride.
“Carol, to me, she's really like such a close, close friend,” she said. “I was telling someone the other day it's hard to talk about her sometimes because I feel like I'm breaking our confidence, you know? I feel like I'm telling her stuff to people. She's become so close to me, I'm protective of her in a strange way.”
Her journey as Carol on The Walking Dead has been thrilling and challenging and brought her back to acting, a career she thought might be over.
McBride was born in Kentucky and has been acting since 1993. She eventually became a film and commercial casting director in Altanta, and occasionally took acting roles. In 2007, Frank Darabont, who developed and initially executive-produced The Walking Dead, cast her in a small role in The Mist. Then Darabont brought her back to television as Carol in his new series, The Walking Dead.
“I didn't see this coming, and I kind of thought I was probably going to be casting for the rest of my life until my wings started flittering again and I flew over to some other thing. But this has just been surprising and a blessing and kind of very surreal. I'm still adapting to it. There's a part of me that's maybe in denial about the whole thing,” said McBride.
“It's giving me an opportunity to do things that there's no way I would have been able to otherwise. Just the fans alone, the people that I'm meeting, the stories that I'm hearing. … It's just touching my life in a way that I can't even tell you. It's amazing and it's beautiful. I just feel ... some days, I do, I say out loud, 'Why? How could this be happening?' Something so amazing just happened. And then some beautiful, unrelated to the industry, unrelated to the work itself, but a byproduct of this work, some beautiful thing just bowls me over and I'm beside myself. Really. I feel like there's a part of me that's standing to the side observing me in this and trying to adapt and kind of pulling me along, like, 'It's okay.' It's kind of strange but it's beautiful.”
The Walking Dead premieres on AMC at 9 p.m. ET
Here's a look at the new season:
What would you like to see happen on The Walking Dead this season?